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Ruby Romance

In May this year my parents celebrated 40 years of marriage which is an incredible 14600 days of matrimony. From that wonderful union they have 2 children and 2 grandchildren and they still love each other as much as they did on their wedding day. My brother and I clubbed together and bought them a garden companion seat with a celebratory plaque.

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Sitting on their celebratory bench

What an achievement 40 years is in this day and age where people are all too quick to file for divorce. Marriage isn’t easy and has to be worked at but my parents are testament to it being possible for love to last a lifetime.

How different the world was in 1976 when they married. Technology which we now take for granted was in its absolute infancy. Can you imagine a time when you couldn’t just google the answer to any question that popped into your head and you had to wait in at home if you were expecting someone to call you? 1976 saw Ford release the first Fiesta which was to become in 2014 the UK’s bestselling car, Concorde did its first commercial flight, England won Eurovision and number 1 the week of my parents’ marriage was ‘Silly Love Songs’ by Wings.

Traditionally the 40th wedding anniversary is referred to as the Ruby anniversary. This association is because the ruby is believed to have an eternal inner flame which glows brighter each year just like the passion and love in a marriage.

My parents decided this landmark was worthy of a big celebration so my Mum and I set about planning an event akin to a small wedding reception. Dinner was held at a golf club for family and friends with a DJ after. We decided on a theme of travel which may seem ironic to those of you who know my Dad well as he hates holidays. However I thought the travel theme was appropriate in more of a metaphorical way because of the journey they have made together through 40 years of marriage.

An old suitcase was used for the table plan and we hung a luggage tag for each table’s guests inside. Each table was named after somewhere my parents had visited together – thank goodness we didn’t have more than 5 tables or we would have been stuck on locations with their limited holidays! The table name was stuck on a cut out of a suitcase and a photo of them in the place put on the back. Place name cards featured a suitcase logo. The centre piece of each table was a single red rose – a symbol used to denote total devotion to one person.

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I made up favours for the tables which were love hearts in a ruby coloured organza bag and I made a cake for them with a photo of them cutting their wedding cake on the top.

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For the event I wore a dress from Coast, similar to the style of my bridesmaid’s dress at my wedding and reddish/pink in colour to tie in with the ruby theme. I accessorized with some silver diamanté sandals which I got in John Lewis when I was a bridesmaid at my friend’s wedding (see I do wear some shoes more than once!) I also had this gorgeous fan shaped metal clutch with a 1920’s art deco feel to it. I got this from Vintage Styler.  I added a red butterfly clip in my hair.

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At the entrance Mum decorated a small table with old photos from the day, decorations from the wedding cake, along with her garter, which was her something blue, blue being seen as a colour representative of constancy and loyalty; and other trinkets hooked over her arm on the day including a horse shoe and a rolling pin. The rolling pin would have been seen as something useful to give a wife so she could make meals for her husband (often a wooden spoon traditionally rather than a rolling pin) and a horseshoe for good luck going back to the 10th century when horseshoes were used to mark the door of Christians thus protecting them from the devil. Many wedding customs are the same today although the gifts hooked over a brides arm are not so common nowadays – I know I didn’t receive any at my wedding.

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My Dad gave a wonderful speech which detailed how they met as a blind date and how he had always loved her and the speech ended with him presenting her with a ruby ring. I also gave a short speech which included a poem which my uncle composed music to and sang at the wedding but unfortunately he was unable to make the party for a second performance of it. The poem is called ‘The Life that I Have’ and was originally written by Leo Marks in 1943 for his girlfriend who had recently been killed in a plane crash. It was used as Poem code during the Second World War. It was common for secret messages to be passed using a poem as code but was proving unreliable as the enemy could find the original source of the poem – Marks got around this by using his own creations. The poem was famously used in the film ‘Carve her Name with Pride’.

A fantastic evening was had by all and it was beautiful to see Mum and Dad dance once again to their first song from their wedding ‘I’d like to teach the world to sing.’

The month of May also saw my husband and I celebrate our second wedding anniversary. Cotton is the symbol given to the second anniversary symbolic of the couple becoming closer and their lives becoming more intertwined. It is also said to represent the couple learning to be flexible and adapt to each other’s needs as cotton is both strong and soft. I bought him a shirt – which he wore to Mum and Dad’s do and some cotton trousers. He bought me a cotton vintage quilt I had fallen in love with from the shop Kiss Kiss Heart in Rochester. We celebrated with a trip to Port Lympne Safari park (one of our early dates) and a curry in a new Indian restaurant in Rainham.

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My gorgeous quilt

Two years has flown by and I’m sure the next 38 will too. I hope we can be as happy at 40 years as my Mum and Dad obviously are.

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Happily Ever After

The day of our wedding arrived at last and I woke on 17th May 2014 to sun streaming through the curtains, creating dancing rainbow patterns on the ceiling as it reflected through the crystal chandelier; a sign that mine and Phil’s weather magic still reined supreme. I ate breakfast whilst reading through the marriage service and felt like I would burst with excitement; I wondered how Phil might be feeling getting ready at his parents house. The preparations all went smoothly and whilst my bridesmaids and I were made to look our best by Emma Smission, http://www.emmasmisson.com/ the adults amongst us enjoyed sipping champagne.

My maid of honour wore a Coast baby pink dress whilst my 2 flower girls (my nieces) wore Ivory dresses with a pink sash from Demigella and pink satin shoes from Marks and Spencer. Their look was finished off with a tiara each from Accessorize and a basket with ‘happily ever after’ on it and filled with pink and cream rose petals. Along with the rose petals, the florist also delivered a tear drop bouquet of pink roses and white lithianthus’, studded with pearls for me and a slightly smaller matching bouquet for my maid of honour. All the flowers were paid for out of my paternal grandmother’s inheritance as a tribute to her, being that her passion was gardening.

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I have blogged about weddings before as the avid readers amongst you will recall and now I finally get to write about my own special day and share with you all the details – big and small which made it the perfect fairytale wedding!

Order of Service

Order of Service

A traditional rhyme, apparently originating in England in 1898 states the things a bride should wear to bring her good luck ‘something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.’ My makeup completed and hair pinned half up with a pearl tiara; I now slipped into my wonderful Berketex gown with lace train (something new) and Mum and my maid of honour laced up the back. I then added the all important blue Manolo Blahnik shoes (my something blue) a pearl Tiffany bracelet, pearl stud earrings and my Mums pearl necklace (something borrowed). I slipped the garter onto my leg, worn by my maternal grandmother and my Mum on their wedding days (something old). As I caught my reflection – I could hardly believe it was me and I truly felt like a princess.

There was only one thing missing from my perfect day and that was my paternal grandmother but Phil being as lovely as he is, knew I would be feeling like that so left a little note saying that my Grandma would be there in spirit through a cream rose which my uncle would wear.

Mum announced that the carriage had arrived and was generating much interest from shop keepers and neighbours alike. As I stepped through the front door I felt like a star with people snapping away on cameras and mobiles and my Dad joked that they probably think I am famous, travelling in such a carriage. My maid of honour commented that it all felt like a dream. The white horses pulled away and we were off to the church – I have never seen my Dad looking as proud of me as he did that day. It was a surreal journey with cars beeping at as and more photos along the way.

My page boy (my nephew) carried the rings on a ring cushion which had the words ‘happily ever after’ on it and him and my bridesmaids followed me down the aisle. As Dad walked me towards my waiting husband to be, it felt like slow motion and it was an amazing feeling seeing so many people in the pews all filled with love for the both of us. I have never understood the concept of crying with happiness until then, when I felt myself well up. The first glimpse of my husband to be was wonderful – he looked so handsome and smart in the tails we had hired from Well Suited.

The service seemed to go by in a flash and included some beautiful readings.  The priest commented on my manicure and said what a good idea it was to mark the ring finger with gems!  Before I knew it, Phil was lifting my veil and we had our first kiss as husband and wife.

We then enjoyed another ride in the carriage to take us to the reception at Chatham Dockyard. Upon arrival we were handed champagne and then whisked off for photos whilst our guests enjoyed canapés. In true fairytale tradition, we were presented to our guests on the balcony of the Commissioners House and gave everyone a royal wave.

People found their seats on the table plan which I made from a mirror shaped like a fairytale mirror in Snow White. The Toastmaster then announced our arrival to the wedding breakfast as the newest Mr and Mrs Thompson. The tables had been set out more beautifully than I had dared to imagine. Each table had a tall martini glass filled with flowers and crystals draped around it. Every chair had a white cover and a baby pink bow around it courtesy of Ambiance. Each table was named something fairytale related with the top table being ‘Happily Ever After’ of course. Place cards matched the invitations and order of services with a prince and princess on, purchased from Confetti. Each person had a carriage shaped box as a favour which was filled with 5 pink sugared almonds and a note to explain the significance of them. For those who don’t know, they stand for health, wealth, happiness, long life and fertility. The meal was delicious thanks to A Form Catering with portions sizes which left no one feeling hungry. The meal was followed by speeches. My Dad, the best man and my husband all gave wonderful speeches especially given that they are all quite shy. I was truly touched by all of them.

More photos then followed and evening guests began to arrive – the day was flying past. Our cake was made by my aunty and was magnificent with a fairytale castle on the top.  We had our first dance to ‘Because you Loved Me’ by Celine Dion. As we shuffled about (I say shuffled as the dance lessons never materialised) I felt like the luckiest woman on earth. I then also had a father, daughter dance to ‘Have I Told You Lately’ by Rod Stewart. Again I felt so happy to see my Dad so happy and full of pride. Later in the evening we had ‘Someone Like You’ sung by my friend which was beautiful.

It pains me to have to report that by the end of the evening my shoes had been abandoned as they weren’t that comfortable but I still loved them and being a die hard Sex and the City fan it seemed only right to wear the shoes that Carrie married Big in. I personalised the shoes with diamante saying ‘I do’. We didn’t leave until well gone midnight, ironically being that Cinderella had to leave the ball on the stroke of midnight before the spell was broken. The spell of love will never be broken for us two.

We asked for no presents as we really have all we need and just wanted people to enjoy themselves but people were so kind to us so I want to say thank you to all of them. Those who brought a card will have noticed another fairytale detail in the hallway, a card box shaped like a carriage. The guest book and pen also had ‘Happily Ever After’ on it and we greatly enjoyed reading all the messages people left for us.

People all tell you how quick the day goes and that is so true and I am only grateful that we decided to have a video of the day as that was wonderful to watch and take in things you missed the first time round.

A wedding is just one day but a marriage is for life. The wedding day is steeped in tradition but every bride aims to add an original, personal touch; I only hope I succeeded. The fairytale themed day was the best day of my life and one that I will look back fondly on until my dying day. Thank you to everyone who helped to make it so special but especially to Phil for becoming my husband. I look forward to many happy years together. “A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” Mignon McLaughlin.